The Base Tan Myth Debunked: 5 Misconceptions On Sun Exposure

Sunlight provides life and food to many living organisms on this planet. Its warm rays might feel luxurious after stepping out of an air-conditioned building, but commonly held myths make it seem safer than it really is. Check out everything you should know about the base tan myth and other misconceptions that might put you at risk of skin damage.

What Is The Base Tan Myth?

The base tan myth is a sun safety belief that recently resurfaced on TikTok. People claim that getting a slight tan before spending long periods in the sun — like lounging on the beach — helps your skin build tolerance against ultraviolet (UV) rays. Health experts declared this untrue and warned that any sun exposure contributes the same risk of burns and skin cancer.

Other Common Sun Exposure Misconceptions

Everybody’s trying to do their best to stay safe. It’s why sun exposure misconceptions like the base tan myth stick around in the public’s mind. Here are a few other widely held beliefs that make people accidentally put themself at higher risk of skin damage.

1. Sunshine Can’t Poison You

Sunshine isn’t a poisonous substance on its own. However, the body develops burns after 15 minutes of exposure without sunscreen. If you stay in the sunlight for longer periods, the same research shows your burns can become so severe that you experience sun poisoning symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Skin tingling
  • Chills
  • Fever

Wearing sunscreen is an easy way to avoid this condition. Although sunshine isn’t poisonous, this condition and its symptoms can affect anyone.

2. Heat and Sunburn Risk Correlate

People sometimes believe they’re more likely to get a sunburn on hotter days. Researchers note that ultraviolet B (UVB) rays cause sunburn damage, not necessarily the air’s temperature. You might feel like this correlates if you spend more time outdoors on hot days because you’re at the beach or pool instead of hanging out inside.

Given that 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer, more effective UV-avoidance strategies will reduce your odds. Look for UV radiation forecasting in your area instead of temperature predictions to better understand your risk.

3. Sun Exposure Is Essential For Vitamin D

When your skin comes into contact with UV rays, it can generate around 10,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. However, you don’t have to get sunburned to support your health with this vitamin. It’s also readily available in numerous food sources like fish, milk, mushrooms and orange juice.

4. Severe UV Burns Limit Future Sunburn Damage

People might think sunburns make your skin cells tougher. After the healing process finishes, it’s easy to assume the affected area develops a more robust resistance to the sun. It’s the same way the body learns to fight off viruses, but it’s not the case with your skin.

Overexposure to UV rays increases your skin cancer risk because your body accumulates radiation damage. Even if you’re not prone to burning easily, your skin cells still suffer from UV rays. Sunscreen with a minimal 30 SPF rating is the best way to limit future sunburns alongside measures like covering your skin with protective fabric or remaining in the shade of a solid structure.

5. Clouds Prevent Sunburns

Many individuals think cloud cover protects them from potential sunburns. It makes sense that a cloud’s shade would reduce risk, but research shows otherwise. Depending on the cloud and the atmospheric conditions, 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds. It’s always important to wear sunscreen, even with cloud cover.

If you want to choose the best shady spot to relax, look for shade underneath a solid structure. Clouds aren’t inherently solid, even if they look dense. The shade from your deck or a poolside umbrella is a much safer spot to recline if you aren’t wearing sunscreen.

Protect Yourself From Sun Exposure

As you try to avoid sunburns this summer, remember that these myths don’t have any scientific standing. Base tans, repeated burns and cooler temperatures won’t prevent radiation damage in your skin cells. Always apply sunscreen before enjoying the sunshine to fortify your long-term health.

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